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INTERMEDIATE TRACES AND INTERMEDIATE LEARNERS: Evidence for the Use of Intermediate Structure During Sentence Processing in Second Language French

  • A. Kate Miller (a1)

This study reports on a sentence processing experiment in second language (L2) French that looks for evidence of trace reactivation at clause edge and in the canonical object position in indirect object cleft sentences with complex embedding and cyclic movement. Reaction time (RT) asymmetries were examined among low (n = 20) and high (n = 20) intermediate L2 learners and native speakers (n = 15) of French in a picture-classification-during-reading task. The results show that a subgroup of learners (13 from the low intermediate and 9 from the high intermediate group) as well as the native speakers produced response patterns consistent with reactivation—with the shortest RTs for antecedent-matching probes presented concurrently with the gap—at clause edge, followed by a second reactivation in the canonical object position. This finding suggests that L2 learners may be able to process real-time input in nativelike ways, despite arguments set forth in previous research of this kind.

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*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kate Miller, Department of World Languages, Cavanaugh Hall 539E, 425 University Boulevard, Indianapolis, IN 46202. E-mail:
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Studies in Second Language Acquisition
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